Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Winter's Greetings, Seasonal Salutations and so forth.

It has been months (months!) since I last updated this blog, and to be honest I feel like I've let my loyal readers down (all two of you). I am hoping to have a few more reviews, and general thoughts about gaming in the coming months (starting January, perhaps).

My current list of games to finish and write about is still slowly increasing, although thankfully I have avoided spending much on the winter sales so I can hopefully get things under some amount of control.

I have recently been playing Torchlight 2, and will probably write about that at some point, although I feel bad now for having dismissed the first Torchlight after only ~20 minutes of play. Anyone care to comment if it's worth going back to take a look?

The other game that has completely consumed my time is GTAV, which unfortunately is on my shiny new PS4, so I feel it doesn't quite conform to the usual content of the blog, which has been primarily PC gaming focused. I am toying with the idea of extending the blog towards television, films and the like, so perhaps I will update more often if I can discuss a more varied set of topics.

So until next year, I hope you all eat more than you should, have plenty to drink and generally have an enjoyable time, wherever you might be.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Kickstarting: Star Command

All pictures from
Star Command interested me immediately as soon as I'd heard about it. In it's current mobile version, it puts you in charge of a small starship, and lets you explore strange new worlds and so on and so forth. The Star Trek influence is perhaps most strong, but the game has plenty more to offer. It's a little bit X-COM, a little bit FTL and also vaguely reminiscent of Star Control.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Quest For Glory II: Trial By Fire

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Quest For Glory series is one of my personal favourite game series of all time. It blends elements of adventure gaming with solid RPG mechanics, and remains entertaining even through repeated playthroughs.

Gate Plaza, home to Ali Chica and later the Fire Elemental.

I've completed the game numerous times previously, so for this playthrough (Playing alongside both The Adventure Gamer and The CRPG Addict) I'm continuing the challenge from the first game: Finish with maximum character attributes. I managed this quite easily in the first game, but this one was a greater challenge. The first game has a maximum of 100 points for any attribute, this one has 200, but it's not the increased numbers that pose the challenge, but rather the reduced opportunity to train in certain skills.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Indie Gaming: Gunpoint

Gunpoint is a stealth-hacking game where you play a freelance spy. Honestly, if that's not enough for you to want to buy it already I don't know what's wrong with you.

It begins, as many things do, with a murder. Your task is to solve that murder and make some money while you do it! Armed with a variety of interesting technological gizmos and a lot of snark, you do jobs for whoever asks and pays.

It's a noir-like detective story at it's heart, with the gameplay essentially puzzle-like, as you figure out the best way to achieve your goals, which is generally to hack a computer and steal some files. The puzzles generally involve a sequence of hackable circuits that are connected to doors, alarms, lights and so forth. To add a bit of danger to the mix, there are various types of armed security guards to get in your way.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Indie Gaming: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

It's difficult to know where to begin describing this game. On the one hand it's a fairly simple adventure game (of sorts), with beautiful pixel-art scenery and understated but fitting music. On the other hand, it's all contained in a rather bizarre packaging.

There's the spinning record motif, the mysterious character called "the Archetype" the intrusive mentions of twitter, the episodic nature of it, the horrific interface. One particular moment actually ties in with the actual current date (moon phases), although thankfully there are two ways of getting around this.

Alone In The Dark (1992) - An adventure game?

A 3D logo! Impressive for 1992.
 Alone In The Dark is the classic example of early "survival horror" gaming. It's a genre popularised by Resident Evil, and generally involves a lone protagonist in a B-movie horror setting. More modern examples tend to concentrate on gunning your way out of trouble, but Alone In The Dark was no third-person-shooter. Bullets and guns are hard to come by, and some of the malevolent creatures you meet are indifferent to your attempts to kill them by conventional means. (here's a retrospective over at IGN)
The game has some wonderful visual moments, and I love the book-based credits.

Perhaps we have this all wrong, and Alone In The Dark is in fact the first 3D adventure game?

Decerto - setting for this Lovecraft-inspired horror adventure

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Secret of Monkey Island (1990, VGA version)

I apologise for the GIFs, I may have gone slightly overboard with them.

The Secret of Monkey Island is the first in an adventure game series beloved by almost all adventure game fans. I am no exception, and even though I have played through the game many times I was still more than happy to play it again.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Dishonored: Knife of Dunwall

Dishonored is one of my favourite games of recent years. It had a brilliant blend of mechanics and aesthetics borrowed from the likes of Bioshock, Thief 2 and Half-Life 2. Few games capture my interest so much that I replay them in their entirety, which I decided to do before delving into the DLC.
The crime that eclipsed all that had come before

My replay of the game focused on non-lethal, "ghost" runs throughout the game, which I generally managed outside of two levels (avoiding assassins is particularly tricky). The changes in the game from such a "low chaos" playthrough are minor, except for the final level and ending, but I enjoyed the different challenge and reacquainting myself with Dunwall and it's residents was very welcome.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Playing Along: King's Quest I (SCI remake, 1990)

Today's trip down memory lane takes us back to King's Quest, and Sir Graham's first adventure to save the kingdom of Daventry.

New graphics and sound, but enough improvement?

Remakes these days are common and often derided, but this was probably the first proper remake I'd ever played. King's Quest had been an early hit for Sierra On-Line, and spawned several sequels, and as well as this remake there are a few fan-made remakes and continuing adventures. It's not often regarded as the best series that Sierra made, but it is not without it's fans.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Modding and Me: Ultima Minecraft Texture Pack v3a

The new title screen
Ever since getting Minecraft, I tinkered with the textures. A few of the blocks just didn't look quite right, so I thought I'd change them, which is thankfully an easy task. After a little while, I began to think about doing an entirely different texture pack, rather than just changing a few blocks. From this, the Ultima Minecraft Texture Pack was born.

Doors inspired by Ultima VII

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Indie Gaming: Broken Age: Part 1 (A review of sorts)

So, I finished Broken Age. Well, I finished the first part anyway. It all ends on a rather huge cliffhanger, but we'll get to that in a moment. SPOILERS AHEAD! (actually the cliffhanger thing is a spoiler I guess, so SPOILERS BEHIND! also, but this being part 1 of 2 the fact there's a cliffhanger shouldn't be surprising).


The game is split between two storylines, but of course anyone could realise that they must surely meet at some point. After briefly spending time with both characters (as you can read in my previous post on this subject), I decided to focus on one at a time. I stuck with Shay first, since I'd spent the least amount of time with him so far.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Indie Gaming: Spelunky

Some games can be obnoxious, frustrating and difficult to the point of hatred. Spelunky could be considered such a game, except that it manages to do just enough to turn each new death into a learning experience.
Finding the entrance!
Oh dear, this can't be good.

Spelunky is an action-oriented platformer set in a constantly shifting dungeon filled with supernatural monsters and devilish traps. Each experience is slightly different from the last, as the levels are procedurally generated to add to the challenge. You cannot simply learn the path to the end through repetition, you must learn how to navigate past each trap, monster and environment.

Indie Gaming: Gone Home

Going home. A short phrase that can mean a few different things, depending on the context. Perhaps it's the return after a holiday, perhaps it means moving back to your country of birth after living abroad for many years. Sometimes it's as simple as heading back to your parent's house for Christmas or some other family celebration, sometimes it's heading home after a night at the pub. Other times it is not so joyous, nor welcome, but the journey must be made all the same.

An adventure game of sorts, set in June 1995

Gone Home is not a game about going home, the home is where the game begins. It is also not your characters home, so there is less a sense of return and more of arrival. Your parents have moved into the large rural house of a deceased family member while you have been away. On this dark and stormy night (is there ever any other sort of night for these kinds of tales?), your arrival is met without fanfare, without any greeting whatsoever.

Your family

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Kickstarted: Broken Age

Today I received the code for the Double Fine adventure Broken Age. It was one of the first gaming Kickstarter campaigns, and received a massive 3.3 Million Dollars (way over what was being asked for). I've played the game for a little while, so here are just a few first impressions.
Two characters, but what is the connection?

Indie Gaming: Game Dev Tycoon

Few games capture your attention from the very beginning. Often a game begins with a lengthy cinematic, or perhaps has a certain complexity which requires the player to invest time in familiarising themselves. Game Dev Tycoon is one of those wonderful games that, while being quite complex under the hood, allows you to jump in and play straight away.

Where it all begins, in your garage

The game itself is a wonderfully crafted simulation of the experiences of a game developer from the 1980s to the present day. Over the course of 35 years (you can play after this, but there are no more "story" elements) you create multiple games and make your name in the industry. How you do this is up to you, choosing the types and genres of games you want to make and attempting to rise through the ranks to become a "AAA" developer.